Code Dependencies

A significant benefit of a microservice-based architecture is the ability to independently deploy the individual services. However, this benefit can be undone by code dependencies. If a library is used by several microservices and a new version of this library is supposed to be rolled out, a coordinated deployment of several microservices might be required—a situation that should be avoided. This scenario can easily occur because of binary dependencies where different versions are not compatible any more. The deployment has to be timed such that all microservices are rolled out in a certain time interval and in a defined order. The code dependency also has to be changed in all microservices, a process that has to be prioritized and coordinated across all the teams involved. A binary-level dependency is a very tight technical coupling, which leads to a very tight organizational coupling.

Therefore, microservices should adhere to a “shared nothing” approach where microservices do not possess shared code. Microservices should instead accept code redundancy and resist the urge to reuse code in order to avoid a close organizational link.

Code dependencies can be acceptable in certain situations. For instance, when a microservice offers a client library that supports callers using the microservice, this does not necessarily have negative consequences. The library will depend on the interface of the microservice. If the interface is changed in a backward-compatible manner, a caller having an old version of the client library can still use the microservice. The deployment remains uncoupled. However, the client library can be the starting point to a code dependency. For instance, if the client library contains domain objects, this can be a problem. In fact, if the client library contains the same code for the domain objects that is also used internally, then changes to the internal model will affect the clients. This might mean they have to be deployed again. If the domain object contains logic, this logic can only be modified when all clients are likewise deployed anew. This also violates the principle of independently deployable microservices.

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